Photo/IllutrationSample packages of Ezaki Glico Co.’s ready-made liquid baby formula that it hopes to introduce next spring. The photo was taken Nov. 19. (Keishi Nishimura)

Liquid baby formula will be available in Japan for the first time from next spring under plans announced Nov. 19 by Osaka-based food company Ezaki Glico Co.

The health ministry lifted its ban on the manufacture of such products in August.

A company official showed off several 125-milliliter packages of the drink during a news conference held at the health ministry.

Price and duration of storage still have to be determined. Liquid baby formula has a shelf life of six months to a year, compared with 18 months for powdered milk.

Ezaki Glico said it intends to apply to the ministry to start production after getting approval for the ingredients.

It will also need approval from the Consumer Affairs Agency with regard to labeling as a food for special use.

The company said it expects its liquid formula to be the first to be sold in Japan.

Liquid baby formula can be stored at room temperature. Another advantage is that it is ready to drink and does not necessitate measuring amounts of powder to dissolve in hot water and then cooling the liquid.

For some kinds of products, liquid baby formula can be drunk directly from the package and does not require a baby bottle.

Even though it is relatively expensive compared with powdered milk, liquid formula is widely popular overseas.

Calls have been growing in Japan for its introduction to help reduce the workloads of busy parents and also because it is useful in times of disaster.

A Japan Dietetic Association official who attended the news conference said guidelines on the use of the baby formula should be in place by Dec. 31 and local governments will be advised to stockpile the products.

The Bunkyo Ward government in Tokyo also announced plans at the same time to stockpile 2,000 or so packages of the liquid formula as part of disaster preparedness efforts.

Eri Suenaga, 39, a former bank employee who worked to lift the ban on liquid baby formula, said, “We can feel secure about products made in Japan."

She expressed hopes that this should alleviate any concerns people may have as they grow to appreciate the advantages of liquid formula.